CHEERS: To Gertrude Mokotoff, the first woman elected mayor of Middletown and Common Council president, who died last week at the age of 100.
As her successor, Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano, so aptly put it, “You always had to follow Gertrude, you could never lead Gertrude.”
She taught biology at SUNY Orange and was head of the Medical Laboratory Technology Department for 27 years. She served 19 years as a trustee at the college.
“Gert Mokotoff was a trailblazer and innovator,” said SUNY Orange President Kristine Young. “I can’t imagine where Orange County Community College might be today, had we passed on hiring Gert.”
CHEERS: To the sloop Clearwater, which seems as if it has been sailing the Hudson forever, but this year marks the 50th anniversary of its keel-laying ceremony.
The Clearwater was made to look like the Dutch sloops that used to carry supplies up and down the Hudson River. The late folk singer Pete Seeger and other environmentalists wanted the ship to be a symbol of the river’s rebirth and a floating classroom.
Its continued presence on the river is a reminder of what people can do to clean up the environment and a motivation to keep up that work.
CHEERS: To Pardison Fontaine for inspiring local young rappers.
Zubin Ramnani says that he has been getting a lot of calls recently from people seeking time at Retreat Recording Club, the Marlboro recording studio he co-owns with Phil Consorti. He attributes the surge to the ascent of Pardison Fontaine, a 28-year-old Newburgh-bred hip-hop artist and one of the club’s former clients.
“I’ve gotten more high school kids in the last six months hit me up for studio time than ever before,” Ramnani said.
Fontaine, whose given name is Jordan Thorpe, has a writing credit for “Be Careful,” a Cardi B song rated by Billboard in June as one of the 50 top songs of the year at that point.
Ramnani said he saw talent when Fontaine began recording at Retreat as an up-and-comer. He also saw an artist who “worked extremely, extremely hard at his craft,” sometimes staying in the studio overnight for days to perfect one song.
JEERS: To the vandals who defaced the statue of Christopher Columbus at the City of Newburgh’s waterfront, painting the bronze figure’s hands bright red sometime after the celebration of Columbus Day.
In addition, the word “History” was painted in white over Columbus’ name, which is etched in the memorial’s pedestal.
There is a lot to talk about when it comes to Columbus, a source of pride for Italian-Americans and a controversial figure as we begin to understand more about the way European powers came to this hemisphere and the way they treated the people they found here.
There is a lot to talk about on this subject, and there has been a lot of such talk in recent years.
But vandalism does not advance anybody’s cause or inspire dialogue. Instead, it invites speculation that those who use such tactics are more interested in the harm they can do than the harmony that future dialogue can bring.